Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Quick and Dirty Update

If you saw the words "quick and dirty" in the title and you came here hoping for 50 Shades of Nerd...

She was a fragile geek with a passion for punctuation.
He was a handsome devil who put his commas where he pleased.
Bosoms heaved.
Conjugation ensued.

Original image found here.

...then prepare to be disappointed. It's not that kind of "quick and dirty" blog. Sheesh. People these days.

And nerdgirls everywhere heaved a heartfelt sigh, having gotten all amped up for the 
cos-play sex scenes and naughty calculus.

Original image found here.

Ahem. The upshot of this blog is that I feel that I've been derelict in my duties here, having absented myself to the "real world"  to prepare for Dragon*Con next weekend, so I wanted to pop in for a minute or two and just give up two brief updates on the world of TV. Specifically, I wanted to tell you, past the lump in my throat, and with a gleaming tear in my eye: "I was wrong." *swallow* *glittering tear slides down cheek*

In my TV reviews, I can occasionally judge too harshly and too quickly. On two shows in particular, I am preparing to eat crow. Lots and lots of nummy crow. 

1) The Grimm Reversal

"That Lady in Black is one baaaaad mother"
"Shut your mouth!"
"I'm just talkin' bout Nick's mom!"

Original image found here.

Not so very long ago, in a blog entry not so far away, I lamented the failure of "Grimm" to choose a conceptual direction and stick with it, and to depict our hero as anything but a normie with some books. These things are still true. However, even with these flaws, these first episodes of season 2 hit me like a tidal wave of awesome. To kick off the show's sophomore year, the woman in black's secret is revealed: she's Nick's mom, not quite dead yet after all. And oh, by the way, she's a lean, mean, ass-kicking machine that makes you pity the PTA who didn't vote her way back in her more traditional mommying days. The dialogue has improved, the pace has picked up, and the ongoing plot-lines are beginning to stretch cohesively from one episode to the next. Aside from the end, which saw Nick fighting a sabertoothed Thundercat (not exactly the most awe-inspiring bad guy we've ever seen), this new season looks sharper, slicker, and full of promise. I can't even begin to go into episode 2, because the plot twists and further badassery will blow your mind.

Quick, Liono, use the Eye of Thundera to stop him!

Original image found here.

So insofar as I indicated in the past that "Grimm" was a lame duck, I must humbly admit my folly. All the promise I saw in the very first episode that made my hopes for this show shoot so high is back again, tantalizing me with the notion that "Grimm" may yet live up to its potential. So stay tuned in and let's see if greatness happens, shall we?

2) Fanged Flip-flop

"Why can't you just threaten my boyfriends with a shotgun like 
a normal dad?"

Original image found here.

The other mea culpa I must deliver isn't 100% certain yet, but there's definitely a possibility that season 5 of "True Blood" is going to go down swinging after all. If you'll recall, I wrote a somewhat lengthy dissertation about what a hot mess "True Blood" was becoming and what needed to be fixed to keep it from derailing completely. Then, this past Sunday, "Sunset" aired, our second to last ep of the season. While some of the problems I mentioned remain unsolved, this show has also suddenly picked up the pace, reengaged, and started running, full-throttle, towards season five's finish line full steam ahead.  Evil Bill still bothers me. However, Evil Bill's delegating to Jessica the task of turning Jason Stackhouse into her vampire progeny to punish her for her attempt to trick him was just delightful. Plus, in the ensuing action, as Jessica tries to razzle-dazzle her way past her guards and save Jason from becoming a permanent member of the night shift,  their charming interaction ended with a line from Jessica that had me nearly weeping bloody tears, myself. Then Jessica went to hide out at Fangtasia, having defied Pops for the love of a hottie in uniform. (Who hasn't?) This reunited the baby vamp club, Tara and Jess, and had them gossiping on their coffins and bonding into BFFs as I'd hoped they might in my giddiest dreams. Pam, of course, was resplendent in the ebbs and flows of bitchdom, one minute snapping at her fledglings, another laying some grudging wisdom on them, and then, in the ultimate show that underneath that fashionable leather bustier beats a heart of gold, she sacrificed herself to the Authority to keep them from taking Tara in for Sheriff Criss Angel's death. And lastly, the fairies also saw a spike in the level of awesome in their plotline, with a Fae Elder introduced who really digs pop music on multiple cosmic levels. This plot-line ended with a showdown brewing between Russell Edgington and a whole nightclub of burlesque fairies waiting to put on a strip laser-light show of doom in defense of their right to be bloodsucker-free. Suddenly, things aren't looking so bad here, after all. 

Now you're just some Elder that we used to know...

Original image found here.

I'm still tired of seeing Lilith's rack and wondering why a goddess can't seem to find a decent bikini waxer. And I'm  not wholly sold on Nora, although her insane love for Eric is somewhat entertaining. But I actually think that season 5 may yet leave me a contented Trubie, nonetheless. 

"Hey, I have a plot, here, too!"
Ssshhhh, Alcide. Go back to digging shirtless while
glistening with manly sweat. There's no need for plot here...

Original image found here.

So, there you go. When I'm wrong, I (almost, and with only a few qualifications) say I'm wrong. And I was (kind of) wrong about both shows. I look forward to seeing what "Grimm" has in store for us, and if "True Blood" is ready to really bring down the house in its finale. And if, perhaps, I've judged them harshly, it's only because I care so very much. Like a teacher with two precocious, if wayward pupils, I am pleased as punch to see them both succeeding, and look forward to cheering them on as they excel. 

But if they start to suck again... *twitches fingers over keyboard* ... I'll be waiting! 


Original image found here.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Of Men and Peanut Butter

Sometime before I moved from Fort Lauderdale, I started working on yet another novel. In my lifetime, I've started dozens, and I've finished four. The first one was abysmal, good for little more than an object to prop under a broken table leg to keep it steady. The second and third showed promise, with a few shining ideas and interesting characters, but everything good about them had gotten hopelessly entangled in overwrought descriptions and far too many subplots for comfort. These, I would need to come back years later, when I had far more strength of will to rebuild and restructure than I do now. The fourth and last novel was actually pretty sound on all fronts, but because I'd been staring at it for 10 years of my life, I needed a second opinion. I'm in the process of obtaining such a second opinion from 10 other people in the form of 10 friendly neighborhood beta readers. But in the meantime, I didn't know how to live my life without telling stories.

This newest tale came bubbling out of my brain one evening when I had absolutely no time to entertain it. But I couldn't help myself. It's like it was spilling out of my ears and running across my floor to soak into my carpet, and if I didn't try to collect it on the page, I'd lose it forever. So despite having to get up and go to work early the next morning with absolutely no time to indulge in random acts of writing, I sat down at my computer and let my fingers go dancing and kerplunking across my keyboard. A whole world began to form. I filled it with people I suddenly cared about quite fiercely, and words that alternately amused and upset me. As it came together, I realized that it was a story I was excited to tell, because it felt unexpected and unique. Even if I wasn't the first person to think of all of the elements I was employing, I felt like maybe I was the first one to combine them together this way, and that felt utterly thrilling. For many nights after that one, I worked on the novel like a woman possessed, just burning with ideas. Then, sometime after I made the move up-state to Tallahassee, I sputtered to a halt and could write no more.

It didn't make sense for me to flail ineffectually upon reaching this portion of the story. This is the part I'd been waiting for. Every moment, every plot twist, every line of dialogue had just been a step I had to take to lead me here, finally, to the introduction of this character I'd become almost smitten with in the course of dreaming him up. And now that I finally led my heroine into his part of the world, I didn't know how to introduce him, or what to say about him when I did.

I stopped writing on the novel for a while and worked on other things. From time to time, I'd come back and sit down in front of the computer, calling up the Word document where my new character was waiting just off-set for his cue. Ultimately, I'd end up going back and re-reading what came before, monkeying with some descriptions and giving some unnecessary adverbs the quick and brutal death they deserved. But I made not a letter's worth of progress towards my guy coming onto the scene. Something about this character had rendered me speechless.

I ended up getting to the point where thinking about trying to conjure him up made me feel vaguely nauseated. My head pulsated with the memory of how much I'd wanted him to come into being, and my stomach ached with the guilt of having abandoned all efforts to make it happen. The only thing I can really compare it to, strangely enough, is that feeling I used to get in high school when, after having idealized some poor, unsuspecting heartthrob past the point of being a plausible human being, I could no longer bear the notion of trying to approach him and interact with him like he was just an average guy who ate, slept, farted, and changed his clothes. I can't tell you now if that's because I no longer knew how to see the boy through all the myths I'd created around him or if I just didn't want to anymore, but I suppose that's irrelevant to the matter at hand. All that mattered was that my fictional character was as unattainable as the guy with the blazingly azure eyes in my Physics class who had scant knowledge of my existence.

Long after I had gone through all of the stages of grief over this failing and finally arrived at acceptance, I hit upon the answer. At the time, I was reading American Gods in my bathtub, draped over the rim with a highlighter cap in my mouth while I marked through the most intriguing bits in bright gold. Every now and then, I traded the highlighter for a pen, marking down observations in the margins that were alternatively keenly analytical and just plain silly.

Around page 50, I got hung up on how Shadow's character had been revealed. I flipped back through the pages, admiring how every detail spoke volumes about this man, whereas a lengthy exposition trying to concisely describe his existence upfront would have lacked the same effectiveness. He wasn't explained, he just was. I really felt like Neil Gaiman knew this character. Thought his thoughts. Knew what he smelled like, how he cut his hair, and what his favorite TV show was when he was a kid. Sensed him in a way that was far more telling than a recitation of objective historical facts could be. And because Neil Gaiman knew his character so intimately, I felt like I did. This was someone whose fate I was keenly invested in, a mere 50 pages into the book. I was worried about him, upset for him, and admired him by turns. Even having read his story once before, I was caught up in his life all over again and fretting like I had no clue what was to come. And it occurred to me that this was the kind of character I wanted to write. This was the only way I could write the man I'd dreamed up for my own book and feel like I'd done justice to the idea of him nestled inside my head.

The answer was so obvious that I would've never thought of it without help, because that's how these things work. I needed to know my character like Neil Gaiman knew Shadow Moon. Shadow hadn't been scattered, willy-nilly, across a page in the hopes that he would make sense to someone someday. The details that made him believable had been spread out through the chapters with the deliberate care of a man spreading peanut butter across the crunchy surface of his toast. No globs and splatters. He'd been revealed to us slowly and carefully: the words that resonated in his mind, the memories that made him happy, his mannerisms when he was concerned, his precise handwriting and his cautious reactions to things that might make another man exclaim and react impulsively. Whether Gaiman plotted him out in advance or his clever brain just happens to work that way, he wove an intricate and subtle image through the pages of the book that made Shadow seem so real that I had to keep reading about him long after my bathwater went tepid and my fingers and toes had became hideously pruny.

So before I sit down again and start stabbing at keys on my laptop, trying to force my character into existence prematurely, I'm going to take him to lunch. Not literally, mind. I'm not that crazy. Yet. One day this week, I'm going to take my moleskin somewhere peaceful during my lunch break and I'm going to write about him until I know him well enough to make him live in my story instead of just existing as a prop for the main character to interact with. Chances are, I won't actually write anything that will make its way into the finished product, but whatever scene or story or details that feel authentic to me when I consider who and what he is. It could be that I'll pen out his family history, or about how he copes with an upsetting event in his life, or how he interacted with other children when he was a boy. It might be something that can be woven into the novel, it might not be, but the bottom line is, it just has to be something that makes him real to me. Because ideas are a fine thing, but people are much more interesting. And whereas some characters just spring into existence, fully-formed, as if they've just been waiting for you to notice them, sometimes the really special ones take a little more care.

Hopefully, if I show my character that I care, he'll take that cautious step into the scene I've set up for him. And my fingers will once again find their rhythm on the keys.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Let Your Pun Monkey Be Your Guide

Somehow or another, my buddy, Sabrina, a.k.a. @sabrinalibrary, and I ended up having this ongoing joke about the Typo Demon who ruins one's texts and Tweets and such and the pun monkeys who dance enthusiastically when one tells amusing but slightly terrible jokes. That joke inspired the following drawing, as I mulled over the warring influences battling for preeminence in my Tweets.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Trouble with True Blood

It goes without saying that this  blog entry is going to contain spoilers. I'll say it anyway just to avoid making an ass out of you and me about whether or not you realize that. So if you're not caught up on season 5 of "True Blood," all the way up to the episode entitled, "Everybody Wants to Rule the World," then TURN BACK BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!!!!!!!! Otherwise, carry on.

Do not meddle in the blogs of nerdgirls, for they are unsubtle and quick to spoil you.

Original image found here.



With three episodes left in this season of "True Blood," I'm noticing that the word on the Tweet is that my Trubies aren't quite pleased with how this season has turned out so far. This is a sentiment I tend to share. Don't get me wrong, it's still one of the better shows on TV, but it lacks a certain... bite. So after giving it some serious thought, I'm going to review the strengths and weaknesses of season 5, and what I think it's going to take in these last episodes to end on a high note. 

Let's start with what went wrong, because that's always more fun.


I'm sorry, did we accidentally stumble into a meeting of the vampire PTA?

Original image found here.

This season finally unmasked the previously mysterious, faceless vampire entity, the Authority. And much like  a newly sober individual staring into the face of their drunken Halloween hook-up from the night before, one can't help but scream, "Aaaahhh, put the mask back on, put the mask back on!" It turns out that the intimidating, powerful political force which has been causing even the unflappable bad boy, Eric Northman, twinges of well-coiffed fear is apparently made up of a vampire Detective Stabler, Barb from "Cougar Town," and a little kid who puts me in mind of MacCauly Culkin, circa "Home Alone." There are others, but that line-up right there is enough to knock them off their spooky pedestal. 

Now, you put Vampire Cartman in charge and that's a show I'd watch all damn day.

Original image found here.

The biggest disappointment here was Christopher Meloni as the head of the Authority. Christopher Meloni is fantastic on "Law and Order: SVU." It's like he was genetically engineered to play the part of burly, brooding, down-to-earth Detective Elliot Stabler. But the very traits that work fantastically for an Irish Catholic cop with an aggressive streak seem anathema to all things vampire. This man has the face, body, and demeanor of the quintessential human beefcake. He's the quarterback of the football team, the fireman saving a baby from a burning building, or the blue collar working stiff shuffling home from the construction site. He doesn't have an ounce of spooky slink in that hulking frame, and that blocky head of his has no business wielding a set of fangs. You can dress the man up in as many pricey suits as you like, but he has none of the supernatural finesse we've come to expect in our more impressive vampires.

"Don't hate me because I'm beautiful. Hate me because I'm an insufferably dull vampire politician."

Original image found here

But the epic fail that is the Vampire Authority is not all Meloni's fault. Sure, his political proselytizing is like a tranquilizer dart to the soul, but this whole plot reeked of lame from the moment it first began. The political in-fighting among the vampires was about as interesting as a Smurf quarrel over who's the bluest. It turns out that when you mix two polarizing topics like religion and politics into a show involving werewolves and vampires with too much of a heavy hand, it becomes more an exercise in torment than taboo. The plots, the factions, the twists... it's too difficult to take seriously when it's all coming from a nefarious organization that's more of a ragtag vampire GOP rather than the Illuminati-type organization wielding subtle yet pervasive world-wide influence that I'd been picturing up to this point. And without imposing ringleaders who can really bring home the import of the rival messages of the mainstreamers and the sanguinistas, it all just ends up being background chatter you have to sit through until you get to see Alcide shirtless again. What would they do without Joe Manganiello's six-pack to keep us from turning the channel?

Let's all just take a moment to enjoy the irony of Reverend Newlin's lost "reflections."

Original image found here.

It's not completely without hope. We know religious fanatics can be terribly good fun- our friend Reverend Steve Newlin circa season two provides an excellent illustration of that point. But then, the old glory days of the Fellowship of the Sun also serve to illustrate that True Blood's strength doesn't necessarily lie in drama, but rather in its quirky sense of humor and parody. Whereas Newlin was a riff on all the hypocritical hugs-and-Hellfire preachers that have gone strutting across your TV screen asking you to donate now to their worthy cause, the sanguinista movement is this very serious, weighty cause for which folks like Nora, Eric's "sister," are prepared to meet the true death. And that's just a whole lot less entertaining. Especially when Nora's just annoying enough that one rather hopes she gets that martyrdom she's been so looking forward to before she can babble zealotry at us again. True, the sanguinista movement doesn't have to take a comic approach to accomplish its goals, but it needs to find an approach that is at least as compelling. Make me laugh, make me frightened, make me concerned, but please, please, stop making me bored.

"I believe things about stuff between bouts of screwing a guy I call my 'brother.' What's not to love?"

Original image found here.

The members of the Authority are not completely devoid of potential. Salome showed some early signs of being a promising character, what with her "I wasn't bad, I was just misunderstood back when I asked for a man's head on a platter" story. Putting a vampire twist on history and legend has been an excellent approach for shows like "True Blood," and this is an intriguing example of this principle. But nothing she's done since has been as compelling. She appears to have been involved in the liberation of Russell Edgington, which is, I guess, something one could do if one was bored and willing to dig up asphalt. However, what she's actually trying to accomplish remains a bit fuzzy around the edges. So she wants to promote the word of Lilith and torpedo all the mainstreaming "let's all be kind to humans" propaganda. This seems like a dubious goal, as the mainstreamers seem to have the better idea, promoting harmony with their food source and feasting freely if illicitly under the table on willing victims. By comparison, freaking out humanity and possibly stirring up some kind of inter-species war seems like a pretty strange plan. 

Plus, Salome's weird religious machinations would also be a lot more intriguing if she took some kind of action that did justice to this cunning puppetmaster persona they've been trying to give her. Thus far, she's just kind of slinked and purred and slept around. I know girls just wanna have fun, but girls who seem to want to fill the world with vampire religion need to do a little more, and do it more cleverly. I haven't given up hope for her yet, but she's going to need to accomplish something by a device other than toplessness and sex if she's going to be a villain you can actually take seriously. And maybe, just maybe, she might need to explain why the hell we need a high body count and a public show of aggression to  feed upon humankind when being surreptitous seems just as effective.

Salome: about as subtle as a naked chick lounging seductively on a bed can be.

Original image found here.

Bad-boy Bill also needs to go. Bill makes for a convincing doe-eyed lover, a brooding Boy Scout, and a  fetching father figure for Jessica. But he is not much of a bad guy. We're too familiar with Bill as our moral compass to get comfortable with the notion that he'd throw it all away in some kind of weird, Lilith's blood-induced existential crisis. Ruthless is simply not a good color on him, at least not for continuous wear. I like to see little flashes of inhumanity in Bill, because it drives home why he and Sookie can never work; however much he may want to be human, he most certainly is not, no matter how hard he tries to fight his vampire instincts. But making him a permanent fixture on the Dark Side is kind of like making Harry Potter a Death Eater. It's just uncomfortable, unlikely, and uncalled for. 

You know, Bill, when most people get rejected by an ex, they eat ice cream and watch sappy movies. 
They don't eat young mothers and bomb factories.

Original image found here.

And Lilith. Oh, Lilith. I don't really know what you're about, but I'm tired of seeing your rack. Be more menacing. Be a compelling villain. Or at least be in a kimono, for the love of Bob. But be something other than a nude hallucination that makes fierce vamps into weird bloodthirtsy acid-freaks.

Boy, are those vampires gonna be mad when they find out she's just a 
stripper covered in strawberry sauce...

Original image found here.

THE VERDICT AT THIS POINT: Vampire Stabler is gone, may he rest in gooey pieces, but Bad-boy Bill and Nutty Nora remain. At this stage, Bill's new Vader-face needs to be serving some kind of "take 'em down from the inside" purpose that we just haven't seen yet so that our former romantic hero isn't getting dirtied up for no reason. Nora needs to take a trip to the beach around midday and poof out of our lives. And Salome needs to learn to hatch cunning plots with her brains and not her pelvic area. Last of all, Bloody Boobs McGee (a.k.a. "Lilith") needs to become interesting or go the way of myspace and gracefully fade from our awareness.


"So I had the craziest dream about you, me, and Eric..." *awkward laughter* 
"That's, um, not something you might consider, is it?"

Original image found here.

When the show began, it was driven by and hooked its audience with the desperate yet impossible love between Sookie and Bill. In some ways, they were beautifully suited to one another- she's tired of knowing what's on everybody's mind and his can't be read- and we clasped out hands through all their trials and tribulations and hoped those two crazy kids would work things out. Then, failing that, Amnesiac Eric entered the picture. Rendered temporarily into a doe-eyed waif where we're used to seeing a sneering badass, he stole our Sookie's plucky little heart and our hearts along with it. Now that Eric's back to borderline villainous normality and Bill has rendered himself persona non grata at Casa Sook, we're left romantically starved with no comparable substitute in sight. It's like gorging on hotcakes for four seasons and then being handed a bowl of salad. Um, WTF? Where's my sweet, carby goodness?

"Mmm, that's some good romance. Nom nom nom."

Original image found here.

For a (really) hot minute, it seemed like Alcide could've been a contender. Not only does he look ripped from the cover of a romance novel in all his shaggy-haired, rippling muscled-glory, but his valiant, noble, good-guy character is just what the doctor ordered in a romantic lead after wanna-be do-gooders with unfortunate violent tendencies and cold-eyed creeps who are only sweet when they're cursed and concussed. When he and Sookie ended one episode in a passionate embrace and began the next heading upstairs to the bedroom, all of our hearts went pitter-patter and as we clasped our hands to our heaving bosoms and mentally pasted our faces over Sookie's, smelling fresh romance a-brewing. And then, Sookie pukes on his shoes and Alcide suddenly forgets he was ever attracted to her. In some ways, who can blame him? Still, a little vomit on the shoes isn't exactly an insurmountable obstacle. Yet, it seems like within minutes of him confessing that bedding Sookie is all he's been wanting to do for a long, long time, he's gone back to his old pack and found himself a nice trashy werewolf girl. Because we all know how well that's worked out for him in the past. 

Alcide Herveaux: Turn-ons include plucky mind-readers and 
drug addicts in shorty-shorts. Turn-offs: vomit.

Original image found here.

This leaves us with an unfilled void, romantically speaking. If the intent of the show was to build up and then put obstacles between Sookie and her new impossible love, Alcide, there's an element of fail here. The fondness and sexual tension wasn't built up enough to drive home a sense of passionate yearning between these two before he went AWOL again. At this point, their one near-tryst just feels like a drunken hook-up gone bad. We have some mild sparkage and the faintest inkling that these two might gel, but not enough to sustain us while Alcide pole-vaults into a distant wolfy subplot and leaves Sookie with no one to pine for. 

Well, Sook, it looks like you won't be needing this this season...

Original image found here.

Bereft of a love interest, Sookie does what any girl would do: she bitches about having lightning hands and occasionally hangs out with Claude and the Claudettes, trying to Scooby Doo her way through the mystery of her parents' murder. When she goes too far off the deep end- such as when she tries to drain her fae battery of juice so that she can just be a normal girl- luckily she has Jason to come and talk some sense into her. And the wrongness of this plotline is truly and completely driven home by the latter half of that sentence. Jason has to talk sense into her. I know. I'm scared, too.

The doctor is in. And yes, he's shirtless.

Original image found here.

THE VERDICT: There's really no help for this season now on the romance front. If Alcide abruptly flakes out on his new wolf lady because he suddenly remembers he was in love with Sookie, we're not gonna really want him to have her, now are we? And Bill and Eric have their own bromance to work through right now and absolutely no time for Sookie's nonsense. Hoyt and Jess are broken up and things are a little weird between Jess and Jason after that whole "he shot me in the head" thing. So it looks like everybody in Bon Temps  is going to be ending this season feeling kinda lonely.But maybe, just maybe, they'll set us up a glimmer of hope for next season... Given that Sookie has a knack for pulling Bill back from the edge, maybe she can end up in jeopardy and make Bill realize that he wants to be an OK guy again, perhaps? Then we're killing two sucky plot birds with one sexy stone. And in season six, we can look forward to feasting on the hotcakes of love once more.


Now you've done it, Terry. You've pissed off a Balrog. Well done, jackass.

Original image found here.

Terry. Terry, Terry, Terry, Terry. So you shot a Middle Eastern woman a few years back and ended up riddled with guilt and a curse of death-by-ifrit. Buy some flame-retardant clothing, holster a fire extinguisher, and go back to being quietly weird and occasionally charming in the background. Now is not your time to shine. This plot and everything it embraces comes off as hokey and uninteresting. The only good thing about it is that it appears to be over. And all the villagers rejoice, especially now that your trigger-happy buddies aren't around anymore to shoot them for it.

No need for a verdict on this one. There was no upside, because this just wasn't the kind of plot that really does sweet, kinda screwed-up Terry justice. Let's just find a better way to use him in the future, mm'kay?


Lest it be said that I've cast off my Merlotte's shirt and lost my faith in the show like some kind of fair-weather Trubie, I do feel compelled to point out that what went well this season went very well, and with more of the same, we can still end season five with a smile on our faces. In particular, the shining stars this season have been the nontraditional relationships blossoming in the background. Because where our leading ladies and gentlemen haven't really brought us any chemistry to write home about, some of the folks around the fringes are knocking it out of the park.  Let's review them, shall we?


Say, it's Vampire Barbie and her friend, Skipper! Victim Ken sold separately.

Original image found here.

From the moment Sookie and Lafayette looked at Pam over Tara's limp, bloodied body with their eyes filled with Puss-in-Boots-caliber soulful pleading, I felt my spidey senses tingling. Not because I sensed danger that merited donning spandex, but because I strongly suspected I was about to see something genius. Pam, all on her own, has been in rare form this season, drolly drawling, "Color me impressed, you guys know how to party" upon discovering the most recent massacre in Sookie's kitchen of death. When asked to be Tara's maker, she continued to verbally rock my world by explaining that, seeing as Tara lost half her head to a gunshot wound, "who's to say she won't come out of the grave all f**ktarded?" Then, as Sookie questioned her commitment to her unwanted role as maker based upon Pam's reluctance to spoon with Tara's corpse while they went underground for the night, Pam snapped back, "I am wearing a Wal-Mart sweatsuit for y'all. If that's not a demonstration of team spirit, I don't know what is." 

This prompted a momentary thought of, "Pam, will you marry me? I'm straight, alive, and not fictional, but I still feel like we can make this work..."

Given her background, this is still probably not the creepiest cuddlefest Pam's ever had.
Except maybe for the flowery sweats. That is just... unsettling...

Original image found here.

Since they came out of the ground and Tara got over her initial "feral" stage, Pam and Tara have firmly established themselves as the perfect vampire odd couple. Pam is the sassy, queen bitch Obi-wan to Tara's pouty and annoying Anakin Skywalker, only I have a lot more hope for Tara growing a spine and ending the "why is everybody so mean to me" routine than I ever had for the Anakin of the prequels. Meanwhile, we're also getting a deeper insight into Pam's background and motivation. She's not just spiked heels, a Southern drawl, and feisty badassery. She has feelings, too. And because her internal struggle over her relationship with Eric and its effect on her feelings about being Tara's maker are so well-written and wonderfully acted, we actually care that Pam has feelings. Enjoy it even. If this is any indication of what this maker-makee bond is going to bring out in each character, then this, alone, may justify having to sit through the Authority blah blah blah. 


"You really get me. I'm so gonna follow you on Twitter."

Original image found here.

Being a vampire not only improved Tara's sense of pluck, it also gave her a more intriguing social circle. Our exhibit A is her bond with Pam, but equally as fascinating is the newbie commiseration between Tara and Jess during "Let's Boot and Rally." They were like the Baby Vamp Club, which is kind of like the Babysitters Club with more violence and slightly less giggling. And hopefully without babies because... awwww. Their mutual reflection over how badass life as a vamp can be may have been tragically cut short by a flash of "bitch, don't be eating my ex-boyfriend" fury, but for a moment there, it was sheer magic. And who knows? Given their mutual delight in blood-drinking and flexing their supernatural muscles, maybe all they need to do to move past this little misunderstanding is to go out for a bite. Seeing Jess as a mentor of sorts has its appeal, and it's good to see Tara acknowledge that with great fangs comes great good fun. So please, "True Blood," don't let this be the end of this duo!


*singing* "Hoooow much is that werewolf in the window? WOOF WOOF!
 The one with the cranky ol' gran."

Original image found here.

Initially, I hated seeing Russell back. He served a purpose in the third season and was a sensational villain, but by the time he got sentenced to an asphalt nap by Bill and Eric, I was well and truly glad to be rid of him. His banter with the newly out n' undead Reverend Newlin, however, has breathed new life into his smarmy villain routine. Indeed, his courting gift of a werewolf puppy to his would-be squeeze took some of the annoying sting out of the scene in the last episode in which we witness packmaster J.D.'s sudden yet inevitable betrayal of Martha and his pack. (Cause nobody saw that coming, Martha, so who can blame you for backing this slack-jawed yokel over Alcide? Grrr... Bygones. Bygones.) Steve Newlin as a gay vampire is the bees knees, just oozing delightful, sunshine-and-rainbows-style evil, and Russell's more experienced, dangerous slink is just the right complement. One simply can't wait to see what these two marvelous monsters get up to next.


There's no "I" in "True Blood," but nonetheless, certain members of the "True Blood" team have risen to the forefront as individual standouts this season. There's probably no need to further discuss my regard for the wondrous Pam or my reverence for the Reverend Newlin, but lest I seem to have overlooked some of the other all-stars, I'm just going to give them a quick nod here.

Putting the "huh?" in "hunky" since 2008.

Original image found here.

I may have poked a little fun at our boy, Jason, earlier in the blog, but this has been a stellar season for the talented Mr. Stackhouse. Not only have his quotes rivaled Pam's for the status of "most likely to be put on a T-shirt", but his dawning self-awareness has given him more depth and relatability. Having been on a faltering journey of self-discovery since the beginning of season two, experimenting with religion, heroism, and being the caretaker for a pack of werepanthers, Mr. Stackhouse seems to be drawing closer to his destination. His growth along the way has been both convincing and endearing. At this point, Jason no longer does all of the foolish things Jason is naturally inclined to do without at least a thoughtful pause to wonder if it's the right thing or why he might be doing it. And his child-like valiance in the face of danger, even if occasionally misdirected or poorly executed, has made him one of the most likable characters on the show. He's come a long way from being a pretty but shallow slut-puppy who keeps stumbling into trouble. Now, even when he's engaging in dubious behavior, such as dalliances with his BFF's sexy ex, he does it with such helpless passion and soulful regret that you just can't be mad at him. Add in the fact that he's wearing that cop uniform like he's doing it a favor, and this is Jason's world and all the other characters are just living in it.


How does Lafayette stay so spunky? He starts his day with some sass in his glass!

Original image found here.

Lafayette has always been the droll voice of reason in a forest of crazy bitches. With his unmatched sense of style, mesmerizing self-confidence, and advanced level of swag, if you're watching the show and not loving him, then you're doing something wrong. 

In the middle of the season, Lafayette hit a weird patch with this whole dances with demons plot-line. However, now that he's stopped involuntarily turning into a blue Thundercat, he's back to being a whole heap of trouble and a mess of fun. His scenes with Holly and Arlene and then subsequently during the seance to contact Terry's deceased tormentor were absolutely genius, and more proof that Lafayette's sense of practicality and humor are firmly back in place. You understand, watching these episodes, how he's managed to survive so long living among so many weirdos. Lafayette looks after number one with all the grace and panache of a handsome stray, but keeps just enough compassion that it never gets to the point of unlikable selfishness. I hope to see him continue his trend of hilarity and confidence and end this season in style.


All in all, "True Blood" has had its misses this season, and there's definitely room for improvement in the plot that was placed on center stage. However, this has just given some of our supporting characters an opportunity to steal the show. Nonetheless, I'd dearly like to see our main characters get their shit together. Bill needs to peel off his villainous mustache and reclaim the role of moral compass from Eric. Eric needs to happily hand over that crown and go back to being the cold, badass Viking with just the faintest hint of a sweet, gooey center. And Sookie's whining is getting very, very old. Bad things happen to her a lot, I get it. It sucks to be a supe sometimes, I'm sure. But at some point, you either suck it up or you feed yourself to Russell and let everybody go on with their lives. Besides, it's not all bad. Every hot guy in Bon Temps loves him some Sookie, and having super powers seems like a bit of an advantage when your world is crawling with weres and vamps. In essence, more than anything, I'd like to see "True Blood" get back to its roots, giving our heroine more pluck and less waaa and reintroducing a strong romantic plot. When you combine that with the sheer awesomeness already coming from Pam, Jason, Lafayette, Steve Newlin and Russell, even if the Authority keeps weeble-wobbling in the background, the show will still be dynamite.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Queer Eye for the Straight Uruk-hai

If you read the first blog I posted here, or if you're just familiar with my nonsense, then you know that my first foray into hardcore fandom began with the culture that sprang up around J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. Back in the day, I was rocking the ring of Galadriel, posting to the Tolkien message board, the White Council, and, yes, even writing fan fiction. Nowadays, I spend a lot more time and thought on "The Walking Dead" and "Once Upon a Time," but I'll never forget where I came from. Hence, it's time to give a little pictorial nod to my roots with this latest comic.


This basically all started when I was contemplating the notion of a "flaming eye" one day at work. And being a wacky punster, my brain came to this. The initial sketch was super cartoony, and I did want to stick to that, but this time I actually googled up a nice picture of both an uruk-hai and the Eye of Sauron to use as models in the creation of this pic. 

So enjoy! Feel free to reproduce it elsewhere, but please include attribution (a link to the blog or a mention of my Twitter handle) and again, do not use it for anything that involves making a profit.